What to Do When a MacBook Freezes During an Update Install

All Mac users have experienced the frustration of the “beach ball of doom” at one point or another. But it is the most frightening when your Mac freezes during the installation of an update.

Known as the "beach ball of doom," the multicolored ball shows that your Mac is processing information.


Your cursor changes from an arrow to a spinning multicolored ball when the Mac is processing information. Although every appearance of the ball does not mean your computer is frozen, seeing the ball for extended periods of time means that the computer is about to freeze if it is not already frozen.


Closing all programs and applications that are not in use will free up memory and processing power. If the ball arrives during an update install and the computer is completely frozen, simply hold down the power button until the computer shuts off. Restart the computer and start the update again, being sure not to have any unneeded programs running.


People, upon seeing the “beach ball of doom,” believe that they will ruin their computer if they turn it off. This is only the case if it is done during an installation of the operating system. If your Mac freezes and you must do a “hard reboot” during an update install, the install will have to start over. Any unsaved changes to documents such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint documents will be lost, however.